How will the Middle East break the “circle of conflict”?

The Palestinian conflict is at the heart of the problem in the Arab world.

The Middle East is controlled by "circles of conflict". Much peacemaking diplomacy will have to occur. Ahmad Abdul-Rahman explains.

The Middle East region has not been free of conflicts for decades, whether the conflict is between the countries of the region, or within them. There are many reasons for these conflicts. Most of these are to do with international and regional polarisation including whether a country wants to be a regional or an international leader.

Multiple conflicts in the Middle East have arisen over the years, whether on a sectarian, ethnic or religious basis. Some countries have conflicts between each other; others do not but still find themselves engaged in civil war. These wars reached their climax in the past decade, during the so-called Arab Spring. However, this Arab Spring has put many countries in the region on the brink of collapse; some countries are still suffering from the repercussions of that era, and have not yet emerged from the cycle of violence.

Perhaps what is striking is the circles of conflict in the Middle East. The more conflict escalates, often the narrower its geographical scope, insuring that people from the same religion are involved, and that the fighting reaches the sons from the same family as previous conflicts. The people involved may use different names, and defend religion or sects or even political ideas, but it is conflict just the same. These conflicts have contributed to the disintegration of the nation state- which is like a cancer that is gradually eating away at the bones of the region until it is on its deathbed.

The Palestinian conflict

The Palestinian catastrophe that led to the destruction of Palestinian society and its homeland in the 1948 war, and the subsequent emergence of the state of Israel, is the central issue for Arabs and is the main reason for conflict in the region.

This conflict has changed, however. It is now in a different form than before, starting with a proxy war, and even the struggle for power between the ruling clique and the opposition. Other events have contributed to strengthening the division and inflaming the situation, such as the Iranian revolution, the first and second Gulf wars, the events of September 11 and its significant repercussions, and the Arab Spring.

The circle of conflict has expanded from just the Palestine issue. This issue initially united all the countries of the region, with their different languages, beliefs, ethnicity, sects, and political affiliations, but the Palestinian conflict became the basis for multiple conflicts that dominated the region, such as the issues over Jerusalem in Israel, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

The Palestinian conflict has not only indulged the Palestinians themselves, which has contributed to losing international sympathy with their cause, but cross-border terrorism has been active, under the guise of defending religion.

Getting the region out of the cycle of violence requires a clear vision- one that relies on restoring the Palestinian issue to the forefront of the region's issues, through the Arab wing, represented by the League of Arab States (LAS). In contrast, it also seeks to promote the values ​​of tolerance, dialogue and sustainable development. It is like "the peace industry" and is part of Among these events is the Tolerance Conference, which was held at the headquarters of the League of Arab States in Cairo in late October 2022, in which a group of clerics, politicians and the media participated, to revive the values of love and acceptance of the other.

The peacemaking experience seems inspired by the Egyptian model. It is based on what "building stability." Egypt has become more tolerant of marginalized groups, such as unemployed youth, women and people of determination. Egypt has gone even further with a comprehensive development approach. It aims to achieve greater justice and faster development, by bringing projects to all governorates, cities and villages. This is in addition to political parties and civil society organisations. It aims to achieve a national dialogue regarding Egypt's future and confronting the current crises.

Breaking the cycle of conflict in the Middle East requires strengthening the principle of tolerance and acceptance, while working with all political parties in order to reach a solution that works within each country. This would represent an internal consensus that serves as the seed for a return to Arab consensus, especially about the Palestinian issue.

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Saturday, 30 September 2023